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Readers Respond: What Was the Cause of Your Most Recent COPD Exacerbation?

Responses: 60

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Updated April 08, 2009

Fumes

Strange smells filled my dining-den that evening. I stepped on the outdoor porch to check the air; It was ok. Fearing an exacerbation, I went to bed in a room with my oxygen concentrator and air conditionin. Although I was breathless just in going to the next room. Over the next few days I self-treated with extra rest and O2, but it got worse, until I couldn't even get from bed to bath without a catch-up breathing. After a few more fearful days, I got a cab to the ER on Saturday morning. I'm home now with extra meds. The Condo insists that noone use the room under my den for chemical work, ever since I reported a previous exacerbation for which I took pictures of toxic substances under my den. But they changed locks. Can't prove anything so complaining and moving on. Chances are, it could be something else but doesn't seem likely.
—5955jewel

Pneumonia

I have had bad pneumonia 4 times since November and hospitalised each time with all the usual iv antibiotics and numerous pills etc. Now I cry a lot and that makes my husband turn his back on me although he makes hospital appointments and picks up my prescriptions. He is just fed up with the turmoil my emphasima is causing him/me, yet I am the one that's hurting, sometimes I wish I would wake up dead and that's a dreadful thing to think. What to Do?
—Guest Livi

Lung Infections

I have had 4 chest infections since December 2011. Now, my consultant sent me for blood test. Why?
—Guest georgina johnson

Exposure to Cedar Particles

I build furniture and exposure to cedar particles from cutting or planing seems to be an irritant, even when wearing a good quality particle mask.
—Guest Dick

Delay in Treatment

As a result of not responding to my condition, I recently spent 9 days in the hospital for exacerbation. I tried to treat myself at home and finally after a week of worsening, I was forced to drive to the hospital emergency room. A nebulizer treatment sent me into even worse distress and I faced the possibility of having to be intubated. Thankfully that did not happen and I was admitted to the hospital where I remained for 9 days. I was choking on sputum that was like thick glue. After a week of IV steroids, I finally expelled a small amount and began to feel as though I could breathe again. This was the worst it has ever been and a wake-up call to respond to any changes immediately. I am still not back at what my baseline was, but I feel better each day.
—VABilly

Smoke From Burning Brush

About a month ago, someone who had cleared several acres, burned the trees and brush. The wind brought the thick smoke to my home. The house was open and the smoke was so thick, I thought my house was on fire. When I looked outside, I realized it was from outside. The smoke was so thick, I could not see the road. Within a few days, I could not breathe and was admitted to the hospital for massive IV steroids, antibiotics, and rigorous respiratory therapy. I was discharged a week later. Now am still having trouble breathing. I am coughing so much, I feel that every muscle has been shot. It is difficult to get a "good" breath. My pulse oximetry ranges from 80 to 97%. Prior to this, had been going to our local fitness center and was at 2.6 miles/day on the treadmill, and worked diligently on the bike, elipical, and "nu-step" as well as the specialized machines. My body was in as good a shape as it had been in years. Now I have trouble walking from my bedroom to the restroom.
—Guest Deb Coughlan

Surgery Caused Exacerbation of COPD

I had to have a portacath installed for chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. I was given a general anesthesia and the tube in my throat aggravated my lungs, I guess. Spent six days in hospital. Uncertain when - or if - I will be able to do chemo. Scary stuff, COPD.
—Guest Audrey Hobbs

Wildfires

The wildfires have been as close as 15 miles away. The weatherman has told us about air quality health alerts, but I didn't pay attention.
—Guest DeeDee

Previous Chest Infection

On July 6, 2011 my mom was going about her day as usual. She was laughing with a friend 15 min before she passed away. She suddenly felt short of breath and thought she may be having a heart attack. Her friend did not perform CPR and by the time the paramedics arrived and were working on her she passed away before she reached the hospital. She was treated for a chest infection a month prior. Stay away from second hand smoke. Make sure your doctor listens to you when you are not feeling well. I am so lost without my mom and just had a baby 3 weeks prior to her passing who will never know my beautiful mother. She was such a wonderful woman who is going to be missed so much. Take care of yourself and do everything you can to improve your quality of life. You just don't know when the COPD can take your life. It is supposed to be a progressive disease. My mom didn't require oxygen yet so if you think you are no so bad, think again. COPD exacerbation can happen at any stage of COPD.
—Breatheasy1day

Culprit, UNKOWN

In 08/'10 I had my annual check up with my MD & told him I was experiencing shortness of breath more than usual w/my COPD. He suggested I increase my ulcer medication to 2x a day. What??? It continued to get worse. Now mind you, I had never heard of "exacerbation" in 10 yrs. Oct. of '10 I had my usual check-up with my Pulmonary Dr.'s P.A. I told her what I had been experiencing & she flew into action. Checked for blood clot in the lungs--X-rays of my stomach-- Injected stress test of my heart-- Negatives! Then on Feb. 28,'11 I awoke early because I was fighting to breathe. Son called 911. In ambulance my heart stopped, got it going, in ER my heart stopped, got it going. That was a Mon. morn. & when I came to on Tue. late afternoon, I was intubated, my clothes had been cut off had IV's, O2 & no idea what had happened & no Mon. & Tue. memories. ICU 3 days-private care 2 days-double ward 2 days-recovery 6wks. Now Great! Your stories break my heart. GOD Bless & heal U All. Holy Hugs kisses
—Guest Marj

Pneumonia

I was diagnosed with COPD about 20 years ago and had no idea how bad it could become. I started having exacerbations about 3 years ago - approximately 6-8 months apart. I was just released from the hospital yesterday from an exacerbation and pneumonia. I was given prednisone and antibiotic IVs, plus oxygen and nebulizer. I was given pill form of meds to come home with. I am on oxygen when needed and nebulizer, Advair and Spiriva. When I went into the hospital although I used the nebulizer and oxygen, I couldn't breath. I was in for 4 days. I can breath now, but not well. I have severe emphysema and COPD. At this point in my life with what's going on, I'm scared. I wish I had listened to my doctor 20 years ago and quit smoking. I had no idea COPD could be this bad.
—Guest guestnancy

Raspy Cough and Pneumonia

I was diagnosed with COPD about 5 years ago. My doctor prescribed Spiriva, Symbicort and ProAir HPA. He would add antibiotics and steroids whenever I was seen for symptoms he diagnosed as bronchitis. He never mentioned anything remotely similar to "an excacerbation". I changed physicians a few months ago because I just didn't feel he had my best interest at heart. On 3/21/11 I had called off from work due to a continuous raspy cough that had started over the week end. By that evening, I felt like I was suffocating and went to a Medical Aid Unit. I was sent to a nearby hospital via ambulance. My diagnosis was COPD exacerbation pneumonia. I was hospitalized for 9 days receiving IV steroids/antibiotics and around the clock respiratory therapy. I was discharged w/24/7 O2, oral steroids/antibiotics and self administered resp therapy. A home health nurse comes in every couple days to check pulse ox, lung sounds and blood pressure. Return to work date unknown.
—Guest Beaunana

Don't Know What Brought It On

Have had COPD for 30 years now. I am over 80, but this last trip to ER was the worst. Do not remember much of the first week. Got there and someone asked if I wanted to be recussitated! I said no and thought this is it for sure. Next thing I was fighting some sort of mask on my face. My nose itched and could not reach it. Then off I went again. I have been on oxygen for almost 13 years. Now at level 2. They had me on level 11 at the hospital, gradually getting me down to 7. My feet and legs were swollen quite large. I have worn "support hose" for several years and they had not removed the one I went to ER in. Told them they should not be worn 24/7, but they left them on. After two weeks in hospital, it was suggested I go to "rehab" in an Advanced Care hospital. This was great and I did the exercises and managed to graduate to come home in a week. I still was on prednisolone and felt good. I still do not know what brought this spell on as it happen within minutes.
—Guest Lois

Flu From My Work Mates

Why can't work mates realize they are putting you at risk when they insist on struggling into work with colds or the flu. They would only lose a bit of money if they stayed at home, but what have I got to lose? I was diagnosed 2 months ago with mild COPD. I had an exacerbation 2 weeks ago after catching my work mates flu, and now doctors say I am in the moderate stage. All my boss said when I mentioned the possible effects of me getting colds and flu was to try and keep out of his way. How is that possible in an air conditioned, open plan office? Pardon me for feeling bitter -- I'm still reeling from my initial diagnosis. How fast does this disease progress? Or don't I want to know?
—Guest ghearn

The Flu Virus

I waited to long. Both my boys live next door and had the flu. I was short of breath and got the virus. I have emphysema and had to stay in the hospital for 8 days. It is hard to get back to where you were.
—Guest Robert

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